Thank you and the future of this blog….

Thank you to all of the speakers and delegates who attended the conference, to our sponsors and to those who have tweeted over the last two days. It was a really interesting conference and has generated considerable discussion, musings and even some blue sky thinking. We enjoyed meeting you all.

So where do we go now?

This blog will continue to be updated. We will add slides and transcripts of some of the talks, and some of the photographs which have been taken. We will also be posting reports from several delegates, giving a variety of views and perspectives.

Of course there will also be data analysis of the the evaluation forms and the forms (and post its!) completed in the last session.

So keep an eye on the blog and twitter too.




Abstract of presentation to be given by Dr. David Thomas

Do changes to records technology or management practices threaten openness?

Dr. David Thomas, session 1

This paper is concerned with the question of whether the rapid changes to the ways in which information is recorded and managed in the digital world poses a threat to openness.  There is precious little point in worrying about FoI or Data Protection or anything else if records of value to researchers are not selected, don’t survive, or can’t be found.  I will also be suggesting that, in order to deal with some of the issues I have described we need to adopt a new and radical approach to thinking about digital records.  I’m going to end with a few paragraphs on a recent research project into open-source documents produced by  Islamic State which has some lessons for today.


Abstract of presentation to be given by Michael Moss and Tim Gollins

The Future Digital Archive and Sensitivity Review

Professor Michael Moss and Dr.Tim Gollins,  Session 1

We will look at the four elements in the archival process, appraisal, sensitivity review, curation and access. We will argue that analogue practice will not transfer seamlessly to the digital world, for several reasons – information is now produced on an industrial scale, it is rarely stored in any semblance of order, demand from users is changing radically and there are emerging computational tools that make the analysis of bulk data simple. Michael will provide an introduction and highlight why the challenge of digital sensitivity review is the most immediate of the threats to openness in the transition from analogue to digital. Tim will describe the overall challenges in digital sensitivity review and highlight initiatives and approaches that may begin offer a long term solution to one of the biggest obstacles to release of contemporary data into the public domain.

Abstract of presentation to be given by Dr. David Willcox

Transferring born-digital records to The National Archives: Challenges and opportunities for UK government

Dr David Willcox, session 2

This presentation will consider the impact of born-digital records on existing processes for transferring records to The National Archives and their availability to the public. The change to the Public Records Act legislates that records should be transferred to The National Archives no later than 20 years after creation. This means that born-digital record transfers will become business-as-usual from next year. This brings new challenges for appraising and selecting records due to the anticipated large volumes and less structured format of born-digital records. Once the selection of born-digital records has been completed, the challenge of balancing openness with sensitivity review to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act will need to be addressed.

The digital world brings not only challenges but also opportunities to embrace new technology to assist in the management and interrogation of digital records collections. Work to date shows there is no technological silver bullet to address the challenges but The National Archives is focusing on incremental steps to support departments in the short-term whilst also investigating the possibilities of longer-term solutions.

Beyond technical considerations, fundamental questions remain to be explored. How can legislative requirements and risk appetite be reconciled to achieve the right balance when releasing born-digital records? Does the pervasiveness and accessibility of born-digital records present unique issues not experienced in the paper world? Will these considerations mean that existing policies and processes will need to be amended or will the review and release of born-digital records require an entirely new approach?

Abstract of presentation to be given by Professor Andrew Hoskins

Archives of War

Professor Andrew Hoskins, session 1

There is a perfect storm of technological, economic and political change blowing over the history of warfare of this century. At all points on the official historical trajectory of military operational records, from production and collection of documents in the field, to their collation and archiving by Historical Branch (Army) to their assessment for declassification or destruction by Defence Business Services, through to their being made public via The National Archives, the shift from paper to digital utterly transforms the very nature of all of these organizations’ business and how the history of war will or won’t be written.

Andrew will ask, in addition to the threats to openness, what are the threats of openness in pressurizing the throughput of military records (the Public Records Act move from the 30 to 20 Year Rule) in terms of the future history of warfare? What are the competing demands of government and privatized records keeping? And how have digital records created fresh uncertainties for what may or may not emerge in The National Archives?

This paper draws upon his AHRC Research Fellowship including an ethnography of Historical Branch (Army) the keepers of the official operational records of the British Army (  

Twitter: @archivesofwar

Abstract of presentation to be given by Dr. Agnes Jonker

Making public | Making publics |

Dr. Agnes Jonker, session 2

FOI legislation in The Netherlands dates back to 1980, and is awaiting substantial revision. Several draft revisions have been discussed in the political arena since, and recently a new proposal – an initiative from two political parties – has been submitted to Parliament. Journalists (media) are the main critics of access to information practice under FOI.

The key elements of the current FOI act – active and passive disclosure – and the most notable changes proposed will be explained, followed by the perspective on access and disclosure according to the (third) Archives Act (1995).

Data protection legislation in the Netherlands was introduced in 1989 (Convention 108) and adjusted in 2000 (95/46/EG). The introduction of the latter confused the professional archivist who had only just entered the digital, just opened the windows from reading room to an online world. What kind of privacy is protected by the Dutch Archives Act, compared to the DPL? In the Netherlands the impact of the 2000 data protection law has barely been digested and meanwhile new European regulation is approaching.

Abstract of presentation to be given by Professor Jeremy Frey

A matter of scientific record:  Open Science ­ What and When?

Professor Jeremy Frey, Session 1

The scientific record is crucial to the progress of science.  At the Royal
Society Report (Science as an Open Enterprise) re-inforced, progress and
the self correcting nature of the scientific method is only possible with
full disclosure.  The matter of what material is exposed in publications
and what is provided as supporting evidence, for example it is unusual to
publish laboratory notebooks, contrasts in some ways with the intellectual
property and patent process.  I will look at how the increasing digital
nature of parts the scientific a process brings with it both advantages
and perhaps disadvantages in supporting the needs for transparency and
accountability are growing supporting the need for clear provenance of
data for the more controversial and less easily reproduced work.